Vermont in the summer: this season that’s so sweaty and so brief.
We’re now in the thick of it: steamy days so humid you could squeeze water out of the air if only the weather didn’t drain all the gumption to do anything right out of you. Nevertheless, there’s so much to be done. The raspberries are ripening faster than we can pick. Blackberries, too. And now the heat is bringing the blueberries on. So many berries and all the child labor is gone!
So, I alternate between sitting relatively still in the cool of my studio, planting words on a page, and making forays into the berry patch, protected by long sleeves and straw hat, filling bucket after bucket.
We’ve gorged on so many already, they’re hardly special any more. But I can’t help myself from picking, then spreading the berries on trays, and sticking the trays in the freezer. When the berries are hard, I bag them for later – for when this emerald world fades, for when my work is interrupted for hauling in wood and feeding the fire, for when the excess heat of the wood stove or the extravagance of a hot bath is a luxury to be relished against cutting wind, icy sleet, blowing snow.
Vermont in the summer: this season that’s so sweaty is also so brief. It’s also so bearable, when I remember back to my city days in Manhattan, when I’d shower and dress, then descend to the street and wilt. Even after the sun set over New Jersey, the pavement radiated heat. Like everyone else, I sought refuge in air-conditioning, which reduced my capacity to tolerate the heat.
In Vermont, the air conditioning we have is called shade, and I’m grateful to the trees that provide it. We also have insulation: those R-values that keep the winter heat in also work to keep the summer’s heat out. We shut up the house in the morning, closing the windows, pulling shades down, trapping the cool air of the dark. Stepping in from the garden is like walking in to an oasis of cool.
We keep the house shut until nightfall. On truly humid nights, we sleep with a fan aimed at the bed. Occasionally, it’s too hot even for sleep; we step out and watch the lightning and lighting bugs, cool off in the shower, sip a cool drink.
Vermont in the summer can be hot, even uncomfortable. But no matter how steamy, summer in Vermont is also sweet because it’s also so brief.